Category Archives: advocacy

The improvised logic of the Surete du Quebec

I believe in a process where two opposing parties should be civil in the interest of resolving their differences, but occasionally I need to call, “Bullshit”

For some months now, I have been working on a project with Claude Poirier. Claude is a pioneer journalist in Quebec. Back in-the-day, he had a page in Allo Police dedicated to the “police blotter”, it was sort of an update on what prominent cops where doing in the province. Through my research I became very familiar with Claude’s writing. For some years he had a show on Sunday evenings about justice affairs. He was once a regular on Paul Arcand’s morning radio show, one of the top talk-radio programs in Quebec. I have become a great admirer of his work.

Note that SQ's Fauchon (who we have written about in these cases) was sent to France for the Mesrine trial

Note that the SQ’s Yvon Fauchon (who worked several of these cases) was sent to France for the Mesrine trail.

 

Poirier now has a new venture. Next month Historia (Quebec’s History Channel) will premiere L’Enquete Poirier. The one hour program will feature unsolved crimes in Quebec, with interviews conducted by Claude (Poirier is a skilled negotiator and interviewer). I was in the Eastern Townships last month to film and interview with Claude’s team. They will be doing an hour program on my sister, Theresa Allore’s case, but that is still in production and won’t air until season two in the Spring of 2017.

Suzanne DeRome who was featured in the W-5 story, back again with L'Enquete Poirier

Suzanne DeRome, who was featured in the W-5 story, back again with L’Enquete Poirier

 

So back to the Surete du Quebec. Poirier’s team was keen to interview Roch Gaudreault, the SQ detective who was the head investigator on Theresa’s case. Recall that Gaudreault has always maintained that Theresa died of a drug overdose, despite the fact that there is no evidence to substantiate that theory. When a researcher with L’Enquete Poirier contacted Gaudreault by telephone and asked if he would appear on camera, he stated that he was willing, but would need permission from the Surete du Quebec (BTW: He still maintained his drug overdose theory).

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I was asked to broker the deal. I visited the head of the Surete du Quebec’s cold-case unit in April, and asked him if he would consider allowing Roch Gaudreault to speak on camera with Claude Poirier. I was told that this was quite common – old-timers often wanted to have the assurances of their former employers before they publicly talked about an historical case. And anyway, the SQ were great admirers of Poirier, I could expect their full cooperation.

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Claude Poirier, Compton, QC, May 2016

 

Now all of this struck me as rather odd. In 2005 Roch Gaudreault went on camera when CTV’s W-5 did an hour show on Theresa. He was retired then, and felt very comfortable suggesting the drug overdose theory. So why did he suddenly need permission?

Something else transpired in that meeting with the SQ. They wanted me to know that they had good investigators. They had good investigators in the 1970s, and they had good investigators today. I assured them that I believed they had good investigators, but I emphatically insisted that they would never get me to agree that Roch Gaudreault was one of them. On that suggestion we would have to agree to disagree.

Cut forward a month. In early May I was back at the Surete du Quebec headquarters in Montreal, but by now Gaudreault was refusing to do the interview. So I asked the SQ, did Roch change his mind, or did his former employer change his mind for him?

I was told that I had to understand: in order for Roch to go on camera, he would need to have the right information, and that would mean going back and looking at all the evidence in the case to re-familiarize himself with the investigation. This would mean traveling to Montreal from L’Estrie, and he was a senior citizen in his 80s now: he could not make the trip.

Again, odd. He spoke very candidly in 2005, why now this insistence on researching the case?

There is of course the irreconcilable fact that if Roch was going to continue espousing a drug overdose theory, it would fly in contrast with the evidence: “marks of strangulation”… “violent death of undetermined means”, and that this apparently was the theory with which the current SQ was running (if that’s not true, then why have her case prominently displayed on their cold case webpage?).

The SQ then again insisted that Roch Gaudreault was a good investigator. They had talked to old-timers from that era that worked with him an they all said… Roch Gaudreault was a good investigator. One of the best.

I let it go. When I got home something occurred to me. In all the information I had reviewed,  all the paper in the Surete du Quebec’s file on Theresa’s case – reports, testimonials, mug shots – I had never seen one official police document from Roch Gaudreault. I had seen Leo Hamel’s report (the head of the Lennoxville police), but where was Roch’s report? The only conclusions in the file are made by Leo Hamel and coroner Michel Durand. If Roch was so good then why had he failed to file his final report?

I put this question to the SQ in an email. The wrote back, “I will explain it to you.”. Yesterday I got a phone call, and they did.

I was told that certain evidence is always held back. The police couldn’t show me every detail because that might jeopardize the investigation. Little details that only the criminal might know, these they could not disclose to me, and that is why I never saw Roch’s report.

All of that is understandable. I don’t expect to know everything the police know. If they worked like that they could never obtain a criminal conviction. There are just two problems with this logic:

Ten years ago when I reviewed all the case evidence I asked the SQ, “Is that everything?”. Sargent Michel Tanguay of the Surete du Quebec (now, no doubt, retired) assured me that it was: I had seen all the case evidence in the file. 

So I guess that was a lie.

Second – and more important – what could possibly be in Roch’s report that could jeopardize the investigation? For that matter, what investigation? Roch said it was a drug overdose. There’s nothing to investigate. There shouldn’t be any salient detail that only the criminal might know because – according to his theory – there wasn’t a crime: there was no criminal.

So I asked the SQ: In Roch report, is the final conclusion a drug overdose or was that – also – a lie?

They said they would look again at the file and get back to me next week.

 

Réponse du ministre de la Sécurité publique du Québec, Martin Coiteux

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La réponse du bureau de Martin Coiteux est superficielle, et ne commence pas à répondre aux préoccupations exprimées dans notre demande initiale. Le chef de la sécurité pour la province devrait avoir de profondes inquiétudes pour la sécurité publique, en particulier compte tenu de la preuve documentée de la destruction des preuves dans les services de police et à travers plusieurs décennies. Aucun montant de la formation à l’Ecole Nicolet va remédier à cette situation.

Les défaillances systémiques dans des enquêtes au Québec proviennent d’une culture de l’incompétence et de l’indifférence qui commence au sommet du ministère tout en bas de la force de police plus petite dans la province.

Nous allons poursuivre notre demande au ministre Coiteux, en ajoutant les noms des victimes, jusqu’à ce que le ministre de la Sécurité publique fait des efforts sérieux pour réformer les pratiques d’enquête de la police dans la province de Québec.
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Ceci est un lien vers la réponse Coiteux: response Coiteux
 
Voici les nouvelles de ce matin de Joanne Bayly de CBC Montréal:
 
ministre de la Sécurité publique dit non à enquête publique sur les enquêtes de meurtre

Voici un lien vers les nouvelles de ce matin par Catherine Montambeault dans La Presse:

Enquêtes non résolues : une réponse « insultante »du ministre Coiteux

Et voici quelques histoires d’il y a quelques semaines au sujet de mes activités dans les Cantons de l’Est au début du mois de mai:

La Presse: Affaire Theresa Allore: son frère refuse d’abandonner
Radio Canada: Meurtre de Theresa Allore : son frère poursuit les recherches

Response from Quebec Minister of Public Safety Martin Coiteux

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The response from the office of Martin Coiteux is perfunctory, and does not begin to address the concerns expressed in our original request. The head of security for the province should have deep concerns for public safety, especially given the documented proof of the destruction of cold-case evidence across police agencies and across several decades. No amount of training at the Ecole Nicolet is going to remedy this situation.

The systemic failures in cold-case investigations in Quebec come from a culture of incompetence and indifference which begins at the top of the Ministry all the way down to the smallest police force in the province. 

We will continue our demand to Minister Coiteux, adding names of cold-case victims, until the Minister of Public Security makes some serious efforts to reform police investigative practices in the province of Quebec.
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This is a link to the Coiteux response: response Coiteux
Here is this morning’s coverage on this matter by CBC Montreal’s Joanne Bayly: 
And here are some stories from a few weeks ago about my activities in the Eastern Townships in early May:

Hundreds of Unsolved Quebec Murders

I want to clarify something from the Sherbrooke Record article:

“While he is one of eight families pushing for a public inquiry into unsolved crimes, Allore said that there are easily 30 cold cases from the 70s and 80s in Quebec alone.”

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That number is more like 150 unsolved cold cases from the 70s and 80s for the Surete du Quebec alone (we’re not counting Longeueil, Laval, SPVM or any of the other municipalities). Let me explain:

For the 30 year period from 1976-2005 the Surete du Quebec had a total of 1,245 homicides, with a homicide clearance rate of about 80%. (all of this is from StatsCan: click here) That equates to approximately 250 unsolved homicides for the thirty year period. Two-thirds of that is 165, so let’s say 165 cold cases for the Surete du Quebec from the 70s and 80s.

If you factor in all other decades and all other jurisdictions, you’re probably looking at a number well over 1,000. The Surete du Quebec currently has 31 cold-cases posted on their website, nowhere near the proper representation of unsolved murders.

I didn’t express myself very well when explaining this to Matthew McCully. I was making a connection at Laguardia, and so I was a little bit frazzled. Here is where the number 30 came from:

It is true that there are currently 8 families petitioning Quebec’s Minister of Public Security, Martin Coiteux for an inquiry into the mishandling of cold-cases in Quebec. I said we probably needed more like 30 families represented before the Minister started to hear our demande, and that that was probably the maximum number of families we would ever be able to find (though I think the number of mismanaged cases falls more in line with the total number of cases = they mismanaged all of them).

Here’s why I only think we can find 30 cold-cases:

It is extremely hard to track down these investigations:

  1. First, you have to find the historical crime.
  2. You need to establish that the crime remains unsolved.
  3. For items one and two above, don’t even bother going to the police: they won’t tell you anything.
  4. Once you establish that there is in fact a cold-case, you need to find the families. This can be particularly challenging. In most cases the parents of the victim are now dead. Your best bet is if the victim had a brother, you have at least a good shot of tracking them down because they shared the same last name. If it’s a sibling sister? They get married, so they no longer share the same name. If the victim was an only-child? Forget it: everyone has died = case closed = it will never be solved.
  5. Even if you get beyond all the obstacles presented in item 4, the family has to be willing to participate. In many cases families have moved on. They would just as soon forget about the whole thing than take on the Quebec justice establishment.

Given all these factors, this is why I said it was realistic that we would only be  able to find about a maximum of 30 names  to join in a petition to Minister of Public Security, Martin Coiteux.

 

 

Enquête Publique: Quebec Police

This was the letter sent earlier this month by Marc Bellemare to Public Safety Minister, Martin Coiteux:

 

Sujet : 8 femmes

Sharron Prior          29 mars 1975           (Dame Yvonne Prior)

Louise Camirand    19 mars 1977                    

Joanne Dorion        30 juillet 1977           (Dame Colette Dorion)

Hélène Monast      11 septembre 1977

Denise Bazinet       24 octobre 1977        (Monsieur Michel Bazinet)

Lison Blais               4 juin 1978                 (Dame Solange Blais)

Theresa Allore        3 novembre 1978     (Monsieur John Allore)

Roxanne Luce         4 avril 1981               (Monsieur Stéphane Luce)

Monsieur le ministre,

Je vous écris aujourd’hui à la demande des familles de plusieurs victimes de meurtres survenus au Québec.

Depuis quelque quarante ans, 8 familles pleurent autant de femmes lâchement assassinées et retrouvées quelque part à Laval, Montréal ou sur la route menant à Sherbrooke. Dépendant de l’endroit où le corps a été retrouvé, c’est la police municipale de Laval (Joanne Dorion), de Longueuil (Sharron Prior et Roxanne Luce) de Montréal-SPVM (Denise Bazinet etLison Blais) ou la Sûreté du Québec (Louise Camirand, Hélène Monastet Theresa Allore) qui a été chargée de l’enquête.

Si, dans les jours suivant les disparitions, les efforts et les effectifs policiers ont été au rendez-vous, les familles ont rapidement constaté que l’indifférence s’est installée pour de bon.  Alors que les enquêtes sont au point mort dans tous ces dossiers, aucun effort senti n’étant déployé depuis des dizaines d’années, les policiers refusent de donner accès à un quelconque élément. Il nous apparaît inacceptable  que les proches eux-mêmes ne puissent mener des recherches additionnelles.

Sous prétexte de ne pas « nuire à l’enquête » alors qu’à l’évidence aucune telle enquête n’existe, on maintient les familles dans l’angoisse et l’ignorance. Celles-ci vivent d’espoir. Or, aucun espoir n’est permis dans un tel contexte. En novembre dernier, on m’a refusé, à la demande de la famille Dorion, l’accès aux rapports d’enquête et d’autopsie de Joanne. Plus encore, on a refusé de simplement préciser si les prélèvements d’ADN étaient toujours disponibles à ce jour. Ces refus répétés alimentent les pires craintes, plus de 39 ans après l’assassinat. Ils constituent une attitude aussi méprisante que cruelle.

Du côté de l’incompétence, les familles Prior et Luce ont appris avec stupéfaction que la police de Longueuil avait détruit des prélèvements du tueur et d’autres pièces à conviction. Il en fut de même pour la famille Allore du côté de la Sûreté du Québec. Sans celles-ci, il est désormais impossible d’obtenir une condamnation. Seul un aveu inespéré de ou des assassins ou une preuve directe et irréfutable pourrait désormais mener à une condamnation.

La Sûreté du Québec doit raffiner ses pratiques dans les cas de disparition et de meurtre. Elle doit expliquer sa conduite mutique envers les familles des victimes de longue date. Les corps de police municipaux ne doivent plus agir dans ces dossiers complexes. Ils n’ont tout simplement pas la juridiction ni les compétences et les effectifs requis.

La population doit savoir ce qui cloche dans ce système ou tout baigne dans le secret. La police se réfugie derrière la confidentialité des dossiers et des enquêtes pour cacher son inertie et son incompétence.

Voilà pourquoi nous demandons :

  1. Qu’une enquête publique soit menée sur les méthodes policières applicables aux cas de meurtres et de disparition ;
  2. Que toutes les enquêtes de meurtre et de disparition sur le territoire du Québec soient menées exclusivement par la Sûreté du Québec ;
  3. Qu’un protocole rigoureux assure la conservation des prélèvements et exhibits dans un endroit centralisé à la Sûreté du Québec.
  4. Que la formation des enquêteurs soit bonifiée ;
  5. Que les familles soient informées systématiquement de l’évolution de l’enquête ;
  6. Que les familles aient accès au dossier complet de la police si, 25 ans après le meurtre, aucun suspect n’a été accusé.

Les familles désirent vous rencontrer dans les meilleurs délais pour vous présenter leur position.

Dans l’attente d’une réponse prochaine et surtout favorable, nous demeurons,

Marc Bellemare, avocat

Katherine Hawkes: Police destroyed all physical evidence

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The Montreal Police have destroyed all physical evidence in the unsolved murder of Katherine Hawkes.

A relative of Katherine’s recently contacted the Montreal police to receive an update on the “investigation”. The SPVM confirmed that the case is still an active investigation. When asked about the physical evidence the investigator responded,

“… there is no usable evidence at this point.”

Interpret “usable” as anything of Katherine’s that might have come into physical contact with her assailant, or anything left behind by the assailant, so:

  • The beige sock
  • The bra
  • Her sweater
  • Her brown coat
  • The bags containing hair rollers and Pepsodant toothpaste
  • Sperm samples
  • The three strands of hair clutched in Katherine’s hand

It’s all gone. The police disposed of all of it.

Katherine Hawkes-1977

And then there were five

This brings the confirmed number of cases from this era where evidence was destroyed to five (5), and adds the Montreal police to the growing list of police forces that engaged in this practice. The cases are:

Sharron Prior (Longeueil police)

Manon Dube (Surete du Quebec)

Theresa Allore (Surete du Quebec)

Roxanne Luce (Longeueil police)

Katherine Hawkes (Montreal police)

Recall that these three forces have the lowest homicide clearance rates in the country over a 30 year period, a measure that is not likely to improve if they continue to engage in this practice (we suspect there are many more cases where evidence was destroyed).

And how is this relevant to today? Just yesterday the case of a 44 year old St-Laurent man accused of the sexual assault and attempted murder of an 11 year old girl was almost tossed out of court because Montreal police made the catastrophic error of destroying the physical evidence during the trial:

“The trial was derailed, however, after it came to light a Montreal police sergeant had destroyed the skipping rope, the girl’s torn bra and about eight other pieces of evidence. The officer in question had confused the case with another in which the evidence had been ordered destroyed. “

When question a Montreal police spokesperson responded that ” procedures have been “reviewed and corrected” in an effort to prevent such an error from happening again.”

Excuse me, but over a 40 year period how many chances are the Quebec police going to receive to offset their systemic blunders?

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Contrast this with news that broke yesterday of the identification of a 47 year old cold case in Los Angeles, California. Jane Doe #59 was stabbed 150 times in Laurel Canyon. It has long been suspected that Jane Doe #59 may have been a victim of the Mason Family Murders, but with no identification police were not able to advance the case. Recently Kristian Gravenor over at the blog Coolopolis was deftly able to put the pieces together and identified Jane Doe #59 as former Montrealer, Reet Jurvetson who left the city for LA  in 1969. Police were then able to match DNA from Jane Doe #59 with DNA from Reet’s sister, and made a positive identification.

Of course this successful outcome was only possible because the LAPD kept Jane Doe #59’s DNA on file for 47 years. To our minds this only seems logical: if a case is not solved, you keep the evidence.

God only knows what seems logical to the Quebec police.

Here’s another thing. This wasn’t a case of a family hanging on for 47 years in the pursuit of justice. Reet’s parents are long deceased. They never even filed a missing persons report. The case was solved because the police – with the assistance of some very able websleuths – were determined to never give up on Jane Doe #59.

No one deserved the horrible fate of Reet Jurvetson. But if she had to die, it was fortunate that this Montrealer met her end in a place where law enforcement respect their duties and responsibilities.

If she had died in Montreal under the same circumstances Reet Jurvetson would never have been identified. 


For more on the Katherine Hawkes case click here

 

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Lise Choquette – April 22, 1975 (repost)

 

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Less than three weeks after Sharon Prior is found the body of Lise Choquette (30 years of age, 5’1″, 141 lbs) is discovered by Alexandre Aube, an employee with Corrival in Laval. Aube was working construction on the then new 440 autoroute when he found her naked body  near the construction site of the Viaduc Vimont at approximately 11:00 am on Tuesday, April 22, 1975.  Choquette was found lying in the mud approximately 275 feet behind Quebec Ciment, a company at 101 Chemin Haut-St. Francois, in Laval.

 

Lise Choquette

The investigators on the scene were M. Lafond and Andre Lebrun of the Laval police, assisted by Sgt Det Fred Funaro and SD Jean Guy Sauve. Choquette was beaten and strangled, and found only with a tie around her neck ( grey tie with a black circles made by “Caporicci”). The tie was “very tight” around her neck.  There was a small amount of blood around her nose.  Her clothing was found about 200 feet away from the body. She had no identification or jewelry, though police know that Choquette wore a ring. The body had not been disposed at the location for a very long time.

 

Choquette

Choquette lived at 2247 rue Lariviere,  about a block away from the headquarters of the Surete du Quebec on rue Parthenais. 

Choquette’s residence was about a 10 minute drive from where Denise Bazinet lived, at 4252 rue Brebeuf. Bazinet’s residence is a 10 minute walk from where Lison Blais lived and died, at 4685 avenue Christophe Colomb.

Choquette lived in the apartment building to the left, 2247 Lariviere

Choquette lived in the apartment building to the left, 2247 Lariviere

 

Choquette was found near the construction site of the Viaduc Vimont in Laval. The location is interesting because it places Choquette directly between where Chantal Tremblay was last seen (the Henri Bourassa metro station), and where Tremblay lived / remains were discovered in Terrebonne (for more Tremblay information, click here)

Medicale Legale

choquette

 

The body was identified by Choquette’s mother, Emelide Choquette who lived at 6668 44e in Montreal. The case was lead by Sergent Detective Alfred Funaro of the Laval Police. The chief coroner was Maurice C Laniel, assistent by Andre Brosseau (pathologiste). 

In a sworn statement to Andre Gauthier, a Surete du Quebec stenographer,  on November 6, 1975 (on behalf of the coroner’s office), Funaro declared that he had interrogated several persons, but without results, and that the investigation was ongoing. Choquette suffered a “violent death”, but the police needed to continue their work, and report back in future.

For the moment the case was une “Enquete sine die”, a “postponed investigation”.

Autopsy

The actual autopsy report determines the cause of death more specifically: “strangulation and connected contusions” about her head. So Choquette was strangled and beaten about the head.  There were no signs of alcohol in her system.

The autopsy was performed by Andre Brosseau at the demande of Roch Heroux at the Parthenais medical laboratory. There was no evidence of sperm in the vagina area.

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Plus étranglements – Lise Choquette, 22 Avril 1975 (repost)

 

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Moins de trois semaines après Sharon Prior se trouve le corps de Lise Choquette (30 ans, 5’1 “, 141 lbs) est découvert par Alexandre Aube, un employé avec Corrival à Laval. Aube travaillait sur la nouvelle construction de autoroute 440 quand il a trouvé le corps nu à proximité du site de construction du Viaduc Vimont à environ 11h00 le mardi 22 Avril, 1975. Choquette a été retrouvé gisant dans la boue d’environ 275 pieds derrière le Québec Ciment, une entreprise à 101 Chemin Haut- Saint-François, à Laval.

 

Lise Choquette

Les enquêteurs sur la scène étaient M. Lafond et André Lebrun de la police de Laval, assisté par le Sgt Det Fred Funaro et SD Jean Guy Sauve. Choquette a été battue et étranglée, et trouvé seulement avec une cravate autour de son cou (cravate grise avec des cercles noirs faites par “Caporicci”). La cravate était “très serré” autour de son cou. Il y avait une petite quantité de sang autour de son nez. Ses vêtements se trouve à environ 200 pieds du corps. Elle avait pas d’identification ou de bijoux, bien que la police savent que Choquette portait un anneau. Le corps n’a pas été disposé à l’emplacement pour un temps très long.

Choquette

Choquette vivait au 2247 rue Lariviere, à environ un pâté de maisons du siège de la Sûreté du Québec sur la rue Parthenais.

la résidence Choquette était à environ 10 minutes de route de l’endroit où Denise Bazinet vivait, au 4252 rue Brébeuf. la résidence Bazinet se trouve à 10 minutes de marche de l’endroit où Lison Blais vécut et mourut, au 4685 avenue Christophe Colomb.

Choquette vivait dans l'immeuble à gauche, 2247 Lariviere

Choquette vivait dans l’immeuble à gauche, 2247 Lariviere

 

Choquette a été trouvé près du site de construction du Viaduc Vimont à Laval. L’emplacement est intéressant car il met directement entre Choquette où Chantal Tremblay a vu la dernière fois (la station de métro Henri-Bourassa), et où Tremblay a vécu / restes ont été découverts à Terrebonne (pour plus d’informations Tremblay, cliquez ici).

 

Medicale Legale

choquette

 

Le corps a été identifié par la mère de Choquette, Emelide Choquette qui vivait à 6668 44e à Montréal. L’affaire a été menée par Sergent-détective Alfred Funaro de la police de Laval. Le coroner en chef était Maurice C Laniel, Assistent par André Brosseau (pathologiste).

Dans une déclaration sous serment à André Gauthier, un sténographe Sûreté du Québec, le 6 Novembre 1975 (au nom du bureau du coroner), Funaro a déclaré qu’il avait interrogé plusieurs personnes, mais sans résultats, et que l’enquête était en cours. Choquette a subi une «mort violente», mais la police avait besoin pour poursuivre leur travail, et de faire rapport à l’avenir.

Pour le moment, l’affaire était une  “Enquete sine die”.

Autopsie

Le rapport d’autopsie réelle détermine la cause de la mort plus précisément: «strangulation et contusions connectés” autour de sa tête. Alors Choquette a été étranglé et frappé à la tête. Il n’y avait aucun signe de l’alcool dans son système.

L’autopsie a été réalisée par André Brosseau au request de Roch Heroux au laboratoire médical Parthenais. Il n’y avait aucune preuve de sperme dans la zone du vagin.

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